England, one of America’s closest allies, has always been a popular tourist destination. Due to its rich history, diverse culture, and exciting current events such as the London Olympics and Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee Celebrations, England is now, more than ever, a premier destination for students looking to intern abroad. Internships can be found in a variety of fields such as business, economics, communications, and politics.
- Business: As the world headquarters for many large international corporations, England has always been a major hub in the business world. Interns typically work with an international company or local British company in fields ranging from finance, accounting, and marketing.
- Economics: As a major business hub, England has a rich economic history and is a great destination for students interested in economics. Internships in England allow opportunities for students to work on economic analysis for a corporation or the government, and to be a research assistant to a University professor at one of Britain’s many excellent universities.
- Media/Communications: Communications is an ever-growing field and England is an exciting place to learn more about it. Students are able to intern with public relations firms, ad agencies, and publications.
- Government: England's government is quite unlike the United States. Students find England's monarchy and parliamentary government fascinating to learn about. Students have the opportunity to intern for MPs (Members of Parliament), political parties, and lobbying groups.
When and Where to Look for an Internship:
London, being the capital and largest city, has the most opportunities for students looking for internship opportunities in the nation. A variety of international and local companies are based in London, thus making it the perfect city for students looking to find internships. Opportunities are also available in other cities such as Cambridge and Manchester. There is no recommended time of the year for interning, but summer is perhaps the most convenient time for students.
Visas for Interning in England:
If you are also studying abroad while interning in England, you must apply for a Tier 4 Student Visa which allows you to stay in the country for up to four years. This Visa requires you to submit a letter from your UK University confirming acceptance and a bank statement confirming that you have enough money available to cover your expenses for up to one year.
If you are looking at simply interning during your stay in England, you will be required to get a Tier 5 Visa. This Visa is valid for up to 6 months and requires you to show proof of your internship as well as bank statements to confirm that you will be able to support yourself.
Cost of Living in England:
Most students find internships in large cities like London and Cambridge, and thus the cost of living tends to be high. Since the British Pound is monetarily stronger than the American dollar, the cost of living is more expensive in England as compared to some US cities. On average, students need about 350 to 500 pounds ($550- $750) for food and personal expenses every month, not including housing.
Work Culture in England:
Even though England is similar to America in terms of customs and business etiquette, there are certain practices which differ from American ones.
Upon meeting, people shake hands immediately to greet each other. However, prolonged eye contact is not made beyond the greeting. Additionally, you are expected to address people with the courtesy titles Mr. Mrs and Miss, along with their surnames, unless they invite you to address them by first name (it is important to note that this custom is not very common with individuals under 35, who tend to address each other immediately by first name). With regards to communication, the British tend to use understatement and do not use effusive language. It is important to know that the British can be quite formal and that they look for long term relationships with people they do business with.
Students shouldn’t find there to be a language barrier. However, British English does differ from American English, so some words will differ.
Work and Labor Laws in England:
International students are allowed to do both paid and unpaid internships in England under UK Labor Laws. Unpaid internships are much more common than paid ones, and thus students often look for part time work.
If you have a Tier 4 Student Visa, you are allowed to work in England for up to 20 hours a week. However, it is important to note that it is difficult to find work and you must provide proof beforehand that you can afford to live in England.